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A conversation with John Frame

BENYOLA: You mentioned in your biography that early in your career, you had these beliefs in ecumenism and perspectivism. What were those to you early in your career, and do you still hold to those?

FRAME: Well, ecumenism, sure. I think the church ought to be one. I take John 17 fairly literally. I don’t distinguish between spiritual unity and organizational unity. I think Jesus started an organization built on the apostles and He wants everybody to be in that organization. He hasn’t authorized anybody to leave that organization and start their own organization. There’s only one organization that belongs to Jesus, so I think still, the church is very rebellious to maintain its 40,000 denominations for whatever reasons, tradition or whatever. I think we all ought to get back together. But I have to admit that’s theoretical. I don’t have enough faith to believe that we’ll make any progress in that direction in my lifetime.

BENYOLA: Some people might misinterpret what you mean that you are saying Christ hasn’t authorized anyone to leave the primordial organization. Do you think we should be one with Rome [the Roman Catholic Church]?

FRAME: Yeah, we ought to be one with Rome.

BENYOLA: Under the present doctrinal circumstances?

FRAME: No, we should not be one with Rome, unless either they or we make some pretty drastic changes.

BENYOLA: Well what about Mormonism, the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

FRAME: Mormonism, I don’t think is authentically Christian at all. There are a lot of Mormons that sort of reflexively follow Jesus because that’s what they see in the culture, and the [Mormon] church has never told them not to do that. So they may be much more orthodox than the denomination that they’re part of. That’s up to God to make His judgments. There may be some people who are really saved in the Mormon church, but Mormon doctrine itself is not the gospel. It doesn’t lead people to Christ. If people come to Christ in Mormonism, it’s in spite of the official teaching rather than because of it. What was the other example?

BENYOLA: Seventh-day Adventism.

FRAME: Well, that’s a little more subtle. I think Seventh-day Adventism holds to some beliefs that I think are unbiblical, such as “soul sleep” and “annihilationism.”

BENYOLA: Like the other organizations that surfaced during the same period in the 19th century, they have some views on justification that are problematic, also. What about the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

FRAME: Oh, Jehovah’s Witnesses are Arians. They don’t believe that Jesus is fully God, and I think the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is pretty fundamental to the description of orthodoxy.

BENYOLA: Do you think we need to be able to articulate the doctrine of the Trinity in order to have a credible profession of faith?

FRAME: Well, we shouldn’t go around denying it, at least. I mean, when people go around saying that the Bible presents Christ as a created being, they must know something about the history and they must have rejected the orthodox view. So I wouldn’t accept them as a member of my church. Again, I’d say about the Jehovah’s Witnesses what I’ve said about the Mormons, I’m sure there are some people in the group that are saved in spite of what the group teaches, not because of what the group teaches.

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